As the industry shifts to keep pace with mobility, the cloud and what Cisco Systems has pegged as the "Internet of Everything," there's more emphasis being placed on software and applications. But Cisco, despite its deep roots in networking gear and hardware, said it's well positioned to embrace that transition.
In a keynote address Tuesday at UBM Tech's Enterprise Connect conference in Florida, Rob Lloyd, president of development and sales at Cisco, noted some of the ways in which collaboration tools and the Internet of Everything -- or the phenomenon by which everyday objects can communicate with each other through the use of Wi-Fi and embedded sensors -- will start impacting our day-to-day lives.
But Lloyd also fielded some tough questions pitched by Fred Knight, general manager and co-chair of Enterprise Connect, as to how Cisco plans to stay relevant throughout the industry's move toward a software- and application-driven world.
According to Lloyd, Cisco has no plans to stop investing in hardware, such as TelePresence end points, any time soon. But the networking giant is also starting to focus more and more on its software play, he said.
"It's hardware and software that actually makes this whole transformation possible. We are talking about exploding the number of end points exponentially -- but we have a focus inside the company and are focusing on software," Lloyd said. "I think the Internet of Everything is about hardware and software working together and exploding the number of end points. That will be good for all of us, and that will be good for Cisco."
Lloyd also said Cisco is well-positioned to pounce on the opportunity represented by the new generation of smart devices introduced through the Internet of Everything.
"I think you will see purpose-built hardware, and a lot more IP-enabled devices -- all of our televisions, all of our appliances are now coming with these capabilities," Lloyd said. "So hardware is fundamental to delivering this and programmable ASICs, and how this all stitches together in a scalable infrastructure will be part of the Internet of Everything."
Lastly, Knight asked Lloyd how and where Cisco is placing its bets on the cloud, another disruptive industry trend he said some organizations still seem to be shying away from. According to Lloyd, Cisco's sweet spot in the cloud will be its UC-as-a-service offerings, along with its Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform of cloud-based applications, which is already being offered by Cisco partners including NWN and Ingram Micro.
"So I think those two [solutions] together form our strategy and, obviously, we do see customers looking at collaboration as the No. 3 cloud application, and I think we're going to see that at a tipping point," Lloyd said. "I actually think we are going to see that accelerate in the next few years."
Cisco also used the Enterprise Connect event Tuesday as a stage for unveiling new video solutions for the enterprise, along with integration between its WebEx and TelePresence collaboration tools.
PUBLISHED MARCH 19, 2013